Source: Eric Curl, “Savannah receives grant to convert FEMA lots into tree nurseries,” Bluffton Today
Savannah, GA (December 14, 2017) – The city of Savannah is one of six cities to receive a federal grant to convert flood-prone vacant FEMA lots into urban tree nurseries.
Savannah has a niche market with its tree canopy but does not have enough residents with the skills to take care of it, said Savannah’s sustainability director, Nick Deffley. The grant program is an opportunity to make the city more climate-resilient while also providing an economic boost to low-income communities, Deffley said.
“We know there are a lot of neighborhoods and a lot of folks here — with a 26 percent poverty rate — who could use better skills and higher paying jobs,” he said.
Participants in the program will be selected after an application process conducted by Coastal Workforce Services, a federally funded agency that provides job search, training and placement services in Savannah and surrounding counties.
Some of the trees that are grown on the FEMA lots will be used to supplement tree plantings for various Savannah projects, which can result in cost savings to the city, Deffley said. The hope is the program will eventually be expanded to other FEMA lots.
“We want to show that there is a definitive return to the community and their flood reduction over time,” Deffley said. “We want to see that there is a return on the economic benefits of the tree-planting costs and that we’re getting folks placed in jobs.”
The city plans to select three half-acre FEMA lots for the tree nurseries next year after meeting with communities to discuss the two-year program. The trees are expected to be planted in January 2019.